Lebanese and Israeli delegations met again yesterday for maritime border talks, with negotiations set to resume next month. The US and the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon issued a joint statement that they “remain hopeful that these negotiations will lead to a long-awaited resolution.” The next round of talks will be held Nov. 11, according to our sister publication L’Orient-Le Jour. The negotiations reportedly got off to a rocky start, with both sides making maximalist demands. While the talks were taking place at UNIFIL’s headquarters in Naqoura, Israeli aircraft violated Lebanese airspace over the area, the NNA reported.
For the third day in a row, Lebanon registered a record high COVID-19 tally, with 1,933 new cases yesterday. Eight more people died of the virus, bringing the death toll to 610, as authorities struggle to formulate a response to the pandemic. The Interior Ministry has scaled down its localized lockdowns of towns and villages across the country in the past two weeks. Outgoing Health Minister Hamad Hassan yesterday criticized the lack of compliance with government measures, saying he spoke with caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab about his ministry’s recommendation to lockdown urban areas.
The head of private hospitals syndicate, Sleiman Haroun, will hold a press conference today amid growing financial obstacles threatening the work of health centers. Hospitals have cried foul over the central bank’s Oct. 9 Circular 573, which mandates the payment of cash lira to finance imports of medical supplies. Amid cash shortages, Haroun warned last week that hospitals might have to stop providing services for non-emergency cases if they can’t secure the purchase of equipment. Caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan said yesterday he sent a request to Riad Salameh, the governor of the central bank, for private hospitals to be given access to $200 million worth of their funds in banks. The central bank said on Oct. 23 that it had reached an agreement with the banking lobby to insure the provision of cash to hospitals. Questions linger over this statement and what mechanism, if any, has been set up to help hospitals.
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah will deliver a televised address tonight. The party’s Al-Manar television station said that the speech, which starts at 8:30 p.m., will address the latest political developments. Al-Manar did not offer further details on the content of the address. Nasrallah last tackled politics on Oct. 4, when he said it was “out of the question” for Hezbollah to be excluded from a new cabinet.
Michel Aoun marks the fourth anniversary of his election as president tomorrow. The president struck an optimistic note in his Oct. 31, 2016 inaugural address, saying he hoped to achieve “a Lebanon of stability and prosperity.” In his latest speech on Oct. 21, Aoun struggled to read through prepared remarks that blamed others for the deteriorating living conditions and government failures in the country. Aoun’s term ends in 2022.
Lebanese and Israeli delegations met again yesterday for maritime border talks, with negotiations set to resume next month. The US and the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon issued a joint statement that they “remain hopeful that these negotiations will lead to a long-awaited resolution.” The next round of talks